Tuesday, 30 November 2010

St Andrew's Day

Today is St Andrew's day, and if you worked for local government then you had the day off work yesterday to mark the occasion. Thanks to the snow a whole lot more people had the day off too!

We had our little St Andrew's day dinner on Saturday, since my beloved is away working through the week.

We all put our kilts on, I happen to think that there is nothing more handsome than a man in his kilt, and had haggis , neeps and tatties for dinner.

Here are a few snaps of our evening:

This was Alasdair's first time wearing his kilt. 
See his little kilt socks? They are something of a family heirloom now! When we got married my youngest brother, also Alasdair, was the same age our Alasdair is now. These socks were knitted for him to wear to our wedding!

'Come on, cut them open!'

Yum, yum, yum.
See also my new wine glasses in this photo and the one above. I picked them up in a charity shop on Saturday, £3 for 7. They are so pretty.

Alasdair wasn't too keen to stand still for this one!

Handsome. x5.

My kilt is Macleod tartan (my mother's maiden name), my husband's is Murray (our name). 

To get a child's kilt made up in your own tartan is quite expensive and only the more common names are available 'off the peg' which is why the boys have different tartans. I have tried to get them ones in a similar greenish colour.

James' is Pride of Scotland (or something like that), Calum's is MacKenzie and David & Alasdair's are just some tartan from a fabric shop that I bought and made into kilts when James & Calum were their ages.

All those yards of wool don't do much for a girl's waistline, but I do love my kilt! It reaches almost to the floor and so I wear it with some killer heels. 


Monday, 29 November 2010

Snowed in 1!

Yesterday morning I was thinking how Saturday's snowfall seemed so tiny compared to what had fallen Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Then this morning THAT snowfall paled into insignificance compared to what fell last night/this morning. And it's STILL falling!

We currently have about 2 feet of snow. It is over the top of my husband's wellies anyway.

Church was called off yesterday morning, as the snow was still falling thickly and the roads hadn't been treated, although it was back on for the evening service. The roads were not great by then either though. 

School was off today, and again tomorrow. Our road was completely impassable for cars today so nobody was at work. It really felt like Christmas!

On top of all the fun the boys have had was the bonus that daddy couldn't leave for his job up north until this evening, so they had an extra day playing with him (although he had to spent the morning shovelling snow with the neighbours!)

I've put together this wee slide-show of the snowy fun for today and yesterday. I put it in a separate post because it was making the text of this post spread too far wide! I haven't included photos of the igloo the boys built with daddy yet, but will  share them later on because the igloo is so impressive.

Although it is not unknown for us to have snow in November, it is unusual for us to have this much, so quickly, so early. 

Scroll down to the next post for the photos!

Snowed in 2!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Winter has arrived!

We had the first snowfall of the season last night.

The boys leapt out of their beds and were outside playing before we were even dressed!

When Alasdair saw out of the window he just kept gasping, saying 'Wow' and pointing at it.

The snow gave a very festive feel to the Christmas Fair at the boys' school this morning. We bought some lovely crafts that the boys had made at school as well as some children's books and a few wee toys.

Once we were out in the playground Alasdair had his first ever chance to walk in the snow. He absolutely loved it!


Gaelic word of the day:
sneachd (shn-achg) - snow

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Recipe of the Week - Cinnamon & Clementine Cake

I think it's time now to start on the festive recipes :0)

 The inspiration for this cake came from one I remembered my mum making when we were younger. It was a Cinnamon cake, only one layer, with no icing in the middle, but it did have the cinnamony sugar on top. 

Last Christmas I wanted to recreate something similar, but I also wanted to add some orange to it too, to keep it moist. Since it was clementine season I tried using them instead and was delighted with the result. One really soft, subtly spiced yummy cake!

For the cake you will need:
6oz dairy free margarine
6oz sugar
6oz Dave's Farm Wheat Free SR Flour
3 eggs
2 clementines
1tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:
3oz dairy free margarine
8oz icing sugar
1-2tsp clementine juice

For the sugar topping:
2tbsp sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon

~Put the margarine, sugar, flour and eggs into a free standing mixer and beat well until smooth and creamy.
~Add the zest of both clementines, the juice of one of them and the cinnamon then beat again until all incorporated.
~Share between two greased and base lined 7inch sandwich tins and bake at 180C for around 20 minutes, or until nice and golden.
~Transfer to a cooling rack once they are cool enough to handle.
~Meanwhile, beat the icing sugar and margarine together then add about 1-2tsp of clementine juice, from your second clementine. You don't want to add too much or your icing will be too thin.
~In a small bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
~Once the cakes have cooled, sandwich them together with the icing and shake the golden coloured sugar over the top of the cake.
~Serve with some warm, citrusy tea whilst listening to carols in the candlelight by the fire.
~Alternatively, feed it to your boys at supper time and watch it disappear at an astonishing rate - even the baby's!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating it!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Now, given previous posts, and what I am about to show, I realise that I may be at risk of a reputation as something of a Star Wars geek.

Can I just confirm, that I wouldn't actually choose to watch these movies! Growing up, I really disliked them in fact. It's just that, in providence I have been blessed with four boys, and, well, they happen to love Star Wars. And since I happen to love my boys, and wouldn't change a thing about them, then I am happy to embrace a little bit of life with the Force.

Right, glad we cleared that up.

I must add too, that this current WIP is a surprise for my boys for Christmas. I can only work on it when they are in bed. I will need to watch too that I don't scroll down on the blog when they are in the room in case they see this TOP SECRET photo I'm about to share!

So, here we go.

Cute, he is.

I have the patterns to make 10 little Star Wars figures. I'm not sure if I'll get them all made in time, with all the other projects I have on the go, so I'm starting with their favourites. We can always add the others after.

Technically, my Christmas cake counts as a WIP, since I will be giving it a twice weekly 'feed' of whisky for the next three or so weeks, before icing it.

Here is my littlest chef helping me out with it.

Mixing it......

.....spreading it in the pan........

.....and cooked. The smaller cake on the left is for my parents-in-law.

The house smells wonderfully warm and festive tonight after baking these.

And after the success of last week's Owl hat for Alasdair, I am nearly finished a similar one for David. I shall share that one next week!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Great Apron Swap

It's here!

My apron arrived in the post today, all the way from Colorado, USA. You may remember I mentioned that my apron buddy, Danielle, and I had agreed we would choose apron's reflecting where we came from, given the distance.

Here is the apron she chose for me,

The photos were once again taken by my little cameraman Calum (8).

Once he had taken this one he said we had to get a close up of the middle,

Then he looked at the apron and said, 'Why does it only have one big star and not lots of little white ones?'

Hmmmm, back to my American friends to answer that one!

The apron is a charity one, to support US military veterans.

Thank you so much Danielle! My husband's great loves (after me of course) are UK politics and military history, followed very closely by US politics and military history, so I know he'll love it too.

I've already tested it out and there is a little splodge of tonight's chilli on it!

I can also now show everyone the apron I chose to send to Danielle.

A nice patriotic Scottish Saltire.

Thanks again to Pam at Where your treasure is for organising the swap.

Gaelic word of the day (it's an easy one!):
aparan (as it looks) - apron

Monday, 22 November 2010

Miscellaneous Monday

~ The boys' school were raising money on Friday for BBC Children in Need. They had a no uniform day and were to wear spots if they could. We have no spotty clothes, so went with the spotty face paint instead.

~Then on Saturday we went for a wee wander round the shops and met the bear himself - Pudsey!

David was too shy to go in the photo, and I thought Alasdair might take fright at a giant walking teddy bear if I put him too close!

(I should point out to all my non-UK friends that Children in Need is an annual telethon by the BBC and Pudsey Bear is their mascot! You can see more about it here.)

~Now that David's birthday has passed we can start to concentrate on our plans for Christmas!

On Saturday morning I put the fruit for my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding into brandy to soak. It's still soaking now so should mean a nice moist cake! I'm hoping to make at least the cake tomorrow, and if I get the chance, the pudding too.

~Who would have thought that brussels sprouts could be fun?! Watch this wee clip and see how Alasdair enjoyed playing with one and showing off how good he is getting at his walking!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

i can cook!

Yes, well, I like to think that I can. But this is about David.

He loves the Cbeebies programme I can cook and was desperate for the book for his birthday. He got both the book and a kids cookery set. 

This week he has made a chocolate orange pudding on Tuesday, apricot rock buns on Wednesday and easy-peasy pizza on Thursday! He coped admirable with rubbing the butter into the flour for the rock buns and pizza.

He loves the book and so do I. It is ideal for children his age or older. A lot of kids cookery books are mainly sweet recipes or have recipes designed to look like something fun but really don't taste so good. This one has a good balance of sweet and savoury and it all looks like the sort of food that would be good to eat!

I'd highly recommend it. David's already planning what to make next week!


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Recipe of the Week - Thai Green Chicken

I love a nice Thai Green Curry. I also love a Thai Red Curry, but the shop bought curry pastes are not always suitable for food allergy sufferers. Those that I did find that were suitable also tended to be a bit on the spicy side for young children.

So I set about trying out recipes using a home-made paste. Often these would mean pureeing the lemon grass stalks in the paste and I wasn't too keen on the texture this gave.

So with a few tweaks I settled on my own recipe. You don't need to make up a paste first but the flavours are all still there. It's a nice easy weeknight dinner, don't be put off by the list of ingredients. 

You will need:
6 spring onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped (add more if you like it hot!)
500g chicken breasts
2 sticks lemongrass
2 lime leaves (if you can't find these you can leave them out)
1 lime, both the zest and the juice
1 tin of coconut milk
handful chopped, fresh coriander
handful broccoli florettes
handful baby corn
handful mangetout

~Heat a little oil in a wok, or large pan and add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies.
~Soften for a couple of minutes then add the chicken and brown.
~Bruise the lemongrass to help release the flavour and add along with the lime leaves, lime zest, lime juice, coconut milk and coriander.
~Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on the pan and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
~Add the broccoli and baby corn and simmer for another 6-10 minutes, depending how crunchy you like your veg!
~If you are adding the mangetout, just add this a couple of minutes before the end.
~Garnish with some more chopped coriander and serve with some sticky Thai rice. Prawn crackers are optional, but essential in this house!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

W.I.P. Wednesday

It's a cute one today!

Technically, it's not a Work-in-Progress anymore, it was my WIP at the weekend.

Once I started it I was determined to finish it quickly so my little man could wear it on the cold mornings when we take his big brothers to school.

Ready for it?

One more thing to add, it's probably one of those kind of things that look super cute just now but he won't thank me for the photos when he is older!

OK, here it is:

This next one's a bit fuzzy, but he smiled so nicely for it!

My cosy little bug!

The link to other people's WIPs is here.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Alasdair's Post Bath Eczema Treatment

Tonight, I thought I'd give you all a little glimpse into my sweet little bug's skin care routine. He doesn't need this full bandaged malarky every night of the week but I would say that, roughly, an average of 4 nights out of 7 he does. When he doesn't have the works done, he is smothered in greasy moisturiser instead.

I've mentioned before how his eczema on his face was a lot worse when he was smaller. Although he still gets patches on his face, his legs, wrists and torso are now the worst areas.

Here are his little leggies before bath. This is an average look for them. They can be better. They can be worse.

We don't put anything in the bath (except water obviously!) and use Epaderm ointment as a soap substitute. It is great stuff but makes the bath treacherously slippy!

Once he is dried off, it is time to apply whichever strength of hydrocortisone (if any) is needed. 

Then it's on to the stinky stuff. Icthamol and Zinc Oxide paste. 

Which you mix up with some 50/50 moisturiser......

......and apply.

If his legs/arms are particularly sore we can also add a layer of Icthamol bandages, which are basically gauze bandages that are already steeped in the stinky stuff. This is quite cold when it goes on, and Alasdair is not a big fan of it, but we didn't need that tonight. 

Although it is horrible stuff (think of the smell of Creosote), the Icthamol does heal up his skin very well. Ironically, it also dries the skin too so the trick seems to be a few days of that then a few days of intensive moisturising.

His little Tubifast tights go on top of the creams to (a) keep them on and help them work and (b) protect everything else in the house from the mess!

Then it's the same routine on the top half of his body.

This is his new Dermasilk garment he is wearing on top, made of silk which is supposed to be an anti-microbial. The dermatologist prescribed this for him last time we saw her but I've only just picked it up from the GP. I'm assuming they are more expensive as we were only given the one! 

This garment, and the Tubifast ones, have fold-over mitts to pop over his hands if (when) he wakes up during the night scratching.

His jammies go on top of the bandages, then pop the lids on the creams and it's off for a wee play before supper.

Thanks to my very skilled cameraman, Calum (8), for tonight's photos. It was a bit too messy a job for me to take them!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Birthday Boy David

On Saturday it was our David's fifth birthday. He was born at 4 o'clock in the morning of Remembrance Sunday 2005. I remember going out to the car to get to the hospital and it was covered in a thick frost! He was born about 20 minutes after we reached the hospital. (His little brother managed to break that record!)

That day was James' (who was then 5) first time marching with the Boy's Brigade in the Remembrance Day parade. Yesterday David got to march in that parade for the first time too.We were very proud of how well the three boys marched (in the rain!).

For a while now, David has been really keen to get a teddy from the Build-a-Bear shop. That was what he chose for his main birthday present. Our schools finish at lunchtime on a Friday so that's when we headed to the shop. He was so excited picking out his bear (doggy, actually), helping to stuff it, choosing his clothes and filling out his birth certificate. He has called him Patch, and loves him very much.

This is them on the train on the way home.

On Saturday we had a little party for him. He wanted a Pirate theme. 

Whenever I am baking, Alasdair tends to sit beside me on the worktop. Here he is after sticking his nose in the icing sugar while I worked on the birthday cake!

And here is the finished cake.

The first thing the party guests had to do was draw treasure maps or pirate pictures on the paper table cloth. They spent quite a while working on their own little bit.

Then after a few party games we had some pirate food.

I had found these pirate cut out decorations on-line and we placed them throughout the house, with one on the outside of the front door to greet the guests!

That's my brother's wife giving out the juice below. She's quite keen to join the blogging world too but needs to think of a catchy title for a blog. I'm all out of inspiration. Her house is full of boys too and she's a stay at home mum too. Any suggestions?

I bought some indoor sparklers for the cake instead of candles. My theory was it was kind of like the dynamite the pirates would used to blow open the treasure. We couldn't get all 5 of them lit at the same time though, so had to do it in two batches. Still, it meant that the fun lasted a bit longer!

Here is the birthday pirate with his cake.

Happy Birthday handsome!

Gaelic word of the day:
sp├╣inneadair (spyoon-a-jer) - pirate